I’m a big fan of the consumer electronics blog Engadget. It publishes a number of news, tips, and rumors on consumer electronics equipment and software, and I have always found the consumer electronics field to be a good barometer for what we’ll be seeing in the commercial and industrial space. After all, it’s the economies of scale that drive costs down and acceptance up; without the camcorder we never would have had affordable autofocus pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) cameras, and you need look no further than hard drive cost, LCD screens, and IP cameras to see how this continues to affect our businesses.
I was listening to an Engadget podcast today (don’t worry, I’ll bring this home in a minute) and they were talking about market dominance of product categories and how there tend to be only three or so leaders. This applies to operating systems for computers (Windows, Mac, Linux), gaming consoles (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo), and other things and they remarked that there will likely only be room for three or so operating systems for cell phones, with the remaining platforms falling by the wayside. While I agree with the first two examples, I’m not sure I agree with the third, and I think it ties in to our market.
The reason is that cell phones, for the majority of users are utility devices. They are there to make phone calls, send text messages, and perhaps check E-mail. Add taking photos to that list and I believe you’ve covered the majority of phone users. Sure there are people who use all the features, install the apps, and are true power users, but think of yourself, your family, and your friends. One in 10? One in 100? I’m sure you see my point (and, if not, please let me know). But those average users don’t really care about operating systems, upgrades, and enhancements. They just want to call, text, E-mail, and take pictures, and for the most part you can do this from phone to phone without any problems.
In many ways, the products in our industry are just like that; utility devices that must work and work reliably. While they may be capable of much more, once things are set up and running smoothly, we really don’t want to deal with them any more. So, when we hear of improvements, bug fixes, and maintenance releases, sometimes you need to read further before automatically hitting the upgrade button. Very often the software fix breaks something else, and going back to the way it was isn’t always an option. The old adage “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” often applies here.
Remember, unlike your personal computer, your DVR or access control system won’t be surfing the Web, clicking on dubious sites, or running new applications. It will be recording images, opening doors, and doing mundane tasks day in and day out. While many upgrades and improvements are essential for security, reliability and performance, others may add features you don’t need at a cost you’re not prepared to pay. Think about that next time you’re contemplating jumping on the upgrade treadmill!
This article was written by Bob Grossman for his “Enterprising Solutions” blog for Security Sales & Integration.
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